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Sales Strategy
Effective Communication: Words Better Left Unsaid
Jan 31, 2018 | Canadian Professional Sales Association lock

We all know that effective communication skills are imperative to sales success. Saying the right thing at the right time is the key to closing. That being said, it can be all too easy to fall back on sales cliches when you’re under pressure and talking to an important customer or hot prospect… and this can be a BIG turn off.

Here’s our list of words better left unsaid when it comes to talking to your customers.

“To be honest with you…”

This turn of phrase can easily slip into your sales vocabulary when you’re trying to come across as authentic and trustworthy but it’s a big no no! Why? Because language like “honestly” or “I’ll be honest,” although meant to build trust, actually does the opposite. The inference is that, up until this point, you haven’t been honest at all. This phrase often comes up when sales reps want to create a sense of insider connection, e.g. I don’t tell everyone this but… and this again is detrimental as it suggests that your company’s marketing materials are deceptive too.

“Just calling to check-in…” or “Just touching base.”

Ouch. These phrases are so bad it hurts to write them down. They’re so terrible for a number of reasons. Number one: your prospects and customers are busy people, why would you call them to just “check-in” or “touch base” and waste their time if you have no reason -- nothing of value to add? Number two: when have you ever been receptive to someone calling to “just check-in?” At best, it’s a little needy or overbearing like your mom bugging you because you never call. At worst, it’s a reminder of something (or someone) you’ve been avoiding, e.g. your boss “touching base on how you’re getting on with that report...” If someone has to call to “check in” it’s not a great sign or can make your customer feel harassed. Avoid using these phrases by having a real reason to connect - you want to share an idea that will help them or follow-up with an answer to a question.

The third and final reason they’re so bad is that you need to rid your vocabulary of the word “just.” Be confident and bold; don’t hedge or apologise. If you’ve got something meaningful to say, then say it!

“I usually don’t do this but…”

Another terrible, but often used, sales phrase. This one is so bad because it’s so obviously fake and cliched. Effective communication comes down to understanding your prospects, not treating them like fools. A customer hearing this will likely think you are full of bluster and therefore untrustworthy. Don’t wreck all that time spent building rapport by coming off as not authentic as you try to close.

“Do you have 2 minutes?”

Again, the reason not to use this phrase (or words to this effect) is to do with authenticity. If you are cold calling, your goal is not to get someone’s interest for 2 minutes and then sign off, is it? No, you want to engage them and carry on the conversation. It’s counterproductive to mislead your prospect from the outset - be genuine and transparent when calling new prospects.

“I’m afraid it’s company policy.”

I’m afraid this phrase is downright bad customer service. Your job as a sales rep is to sell solutions not put up barriers. If a customer wants something that’s against company policy, then you need to find a way around it or break it. If you really can’t, then you need to sell the company policy to them and make them understand why it’s a good thing rather than just giving them a hard no.

Effective communication is really about a personalized response so avoid these cliches at all costs in order to provide an authentic and transparent sales experience to your customers. Need help improving your communication skills? Consider taking CPSA’s Professional Selling Online program, you’ll hone your communication skills and so much more...

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